Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva defended closer ties with African countries during his speech at the BRICS Business Forum on Tuesday in Johannesburg.
The BRICS group is composed of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa; the world's largest emerging economies.
The bloc already is home to 40% of the world’s population and responsible for more than 30% of global economic output, and more than 20 nations have applied to join, according to South African officials, including Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates.
“Brazil is back on the continent it should never have left. Africa offers vast opportunities and enormous potential for growth,” said the Brazilian President.
“The BRICS have a unique chance to shape the trajectory of global development. You, entrepreneurs, are part of this effort. Our countries together represent a third of the world economy.”
Former President Jair Bolsonaro didn’t visit the African continent during his four year term in office.
The meeting was also attended by the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, and the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin did not attend, but sent representatives to the event.